Eat, Drink, and Be Mary: February/March 2013
By Brock Daniels, PQ Monthly
Fortunate to live in an amazing culinary niche, Portlanders are handed an array of eatery types. From incredible street cart food wrapped in paper to candle-lit, romantic fine dining restaurants, there is something here for everyone and for any occasion. A relatively rare experience, but one of the most exciting ways to dine, is family style. Big open spaces house industrial kitchens with eloquent chefs. Large communal tables seat eaters anticipating handcrafted local bounties of each season, and although you may not know the diners next to you â€” you will be friends by the end of the night. The sun-lit comfort of Abbyâ€™s Place at 609 SE Ankeny is sure to amaze any diner. Chef Abby Fammartino sources local, natural, and organic ingredients that are transformed into large platters of edible art. A true farm to table attitude is apparent, and is highly respected. â€œWe believe in the power of yum,â€ Fammartino says. â€œHealthy food must taste delicious in order for your body to truly reap the health benefits over time.â€
When food is fresh, and it comes directly from a trusted local farmer, flavor is unparalleled. By writing menus weekly based on the ingredients Abby can get locally, an encounter at Abbyâ€™s Table will always be special. Delicately earthy and vibrant in rich magenta, the â€œBeautiful Borscht Soupâ€ with zesty horseradish aioli coats the tongue in root vegetable happiness, and screams winter harvest with a perfectly pungent horseradish bite. Spiced pumpkin risotto cakes with roasted lemon chutney highlight the beauty of the flavors of winter with a zesty tease of what spring is going to be. Punxsutawney Phil had some good news for us all this year, and that little groundhog promises spring is right around the corner. With that, I am sure Abby has some great ideas up her sleeve. The menu is always 100 percent free of gluten, dairy, and soy. To accommodate both vegetarian and carnivorous eaters, two main entrees are served. Cuisine like roasted chicken legs with bay leaves, and quinoa-filled portobello mushrooms â€” both with a pinot noir sauce and pomegranate seed garnish â€” are options to choose from. There will always be garden-fresh sides to accompany an impressive menu. Warm Brussels sprouts with Oregon hazelnuts, and radicchio, grilled fennel, and grapefruit salad share the stage. And donâ€™t think youâ€™re leaving without a sweet treat for dessert. Abby whips up luxuries like blood orange and Meyer lemon curd mini tartlets with zested orange. Get a group of family and friends together, and enjoy the poignant talents of an amazing young hip chef. Award-winning and intentional cuisine by Naomi Pomeroy at BEAST on 5425 NE 30th offers a six-course prix-fixe dinner five nights a week and a four-course prix-fixe brunch every Sunday. In her version of family style, Pomeroy welcomes her guests to watch and enjoy an orchestrated night of perfection. Weekly menus support local seasonal ingredients. Watching Pomeroy conduct her staff in a controlled sophistication that turns eating dinner in the open exhibition kitchen into a true show. It is incredible to watch a master beat a hot sugar concoction into handmade marshmallows that will be individually torched for a chocolatey and rich caramel dessert. Strengthening a healthy food culture in America one big communal table at a time, establishments like Abbyâ€™s Table and BEAST in Portland transform the definition of â€œfamily styleâ€ into a local seasonal experience guaranteed to impress a wide range of eaters. â€œFood tastes better when shared, savored or enjoyed sitting down with loved ones,â€ Fammartino concludes. And it does.
609 SE Ankeny Street Portland, OR 97214 503-828-7662 www.abbys-table.com Reservations required
5425 NE 30th Avenue Portland, OR 97211 503-841-6968 www.beastpdx.com Reservations required
Brock Daniels, a Pacific Northwest native, has studied wine, culinary arts, gastronomy, and loves researching new food. Brock has written a self-published cookbook titled â€œOur Year in the Kitchen.â€ Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.